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Season 0910 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Premier
1 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Mackay 45+1
 Hotchkiss 59, Burgess 69, Morris 90+3
Attendance: 643 (approx 170 from Mansfield)
Date: 1 December 2009

by rob_bie33

“You've got no Clare, but we don't care...!”

Mansfield Town recording a morale-boosting 6th league away win of the season versus Gateshead on Tuesday night, the Stags' first night-time away win since January 2008, when Marriott was in goal for Lincoln as we had gone on to beat our near-neighbours 2-1

After the extremely disappointing defeat the previous weekend by lowly Ebbsfleet, it was crucial for the Stags to bounce back, and quickly, from this latest setback; not least to revive confidence amongst fans as well as the players themselves. And what better way to respond; coming back from a goal down at half time, away from home, in the bitterly cold North East winter against a team with a very good recent record in home games. And so pleasingly for Holdsworth, all 3 goals were scored by loanees, and what a good trio of goals they were.

Mansfield started on the front foot and evidently looked up to the challenge from the first whistle. However, the Stags were faced with the very visible hurdles of a strong headwind and a confident Gateshead side and thus clear-cut chances were limited in the first half.

Briscoe received the ball a number of times in and around the penalty area in the first 20 minutes and took on the Gateshead left back, beating his opponent for pace and trickery regularly but failing to find the killer ball into the box for the likes of Perry and Challinor, Mansfield's most advanced midfielder, to feed on.

Other chances for Mansfield came from Burgess' corners, 2 of these caused real danger in the box as they defied the wind (that was blowing away from the goal) and curled right in to the back post, however they were both somehow cleared off the line and scrambled away to safety. Gateshead's keeper was not the tallest and looked very unwilling to try come and claim crosses or even to attempt to adjust his starting position to make it less likely that the ball would go over his head. However, those around us had noted Burgess' set piece ability and Paul Farham's weakness to such balls into the box and in truth, it seemed only a matter of time before we exploited this.

This was in stark contrast to Gateshead's set piece deliveries however, which were often under or overhit, and the ones that did reach the danger area, Mansfield's defence coped with admirably well to limit their effectiveness. Marriott did mishandle the odd ball into the box, but this did not deter him and it was noted he still came out and collected a number of crosses and corners. Marriott is not one to hide in the face of adversity.

Around the 35th minute mark, Burgess played a exquisite whipped cross-field ball to Briscoe, using and judging the wind perfectly. This was an example of something the Stags have been missing all season, composure and presence of mind in midfield to find the feet of an advanced Mansfield Town player. The move came to nothing, but it was a sign of things to come from Burgess, which will hopefully lead to more performances like this one for Burgess in the Amber and Blue!

On 39, Briscoe came a whisker away from putting the Stags in front, with his volley from 15 yards out just dropping past the outside post with Farham stationary. Then Burgess, a few minutes later, hit a decent looking low free kick from 22 yards out, but it failed to get past the wall.

Brough came off on 44 after picking up a knock. In truth, he hadn't had the best of halves and thus the Mansfield faithful were on the whole pleased to see Hotchkiss on the pitch once again after a few weeks of absence due to fitness and personal reasons.

However, just on the stroke of half time, Gateshead took an undeserved lead. The ball was cleared downfield by the Heed keeper, bouncing on the edge of the area, clearing Silk and landing at the feet of Mackay, who preceded to take a touch and ease the ball past the onrushing Marriott. It was a cool finish but ultimately led to an undeserved opening goal for Gateshead.

Half time 1-0

The second half started fairly slowly as the Stags looked to bounce back from a shock opener for Gateshead. The good news for Mansfield was that the rain had began and the wind had strengthened, and thus Gateshead had to cope with even worse conditions and precipitation and almost gale force winds blowing into the faces as they attempted to hold on to their lead.

It was observed by Mansfield fans around us that Perry up front on his own was not working and that Challinor, Burgess and Briscoe needed to push on and take up more advanced positions to latch on to flick ons and take advantage of the Perry's height and strength. The pleasing thing for the 170-strong barmy army was that this did occur and the Stags took a grip on the game.

Mansfield started to turn the screw on 55 as Burgess and Somner shots from the edge of the area were blocked by the Gateshead defence.

The Stags still had to be wary at the back though, and things almost took a turn for the worse when indecision by Jones and Marriott in dealing with a ball over the top led to Armstrong just getting a shot in which was fortunately straight at Marriott's outstretched body.

A deserved equaliser arrived for the Stags in fine style on 59. Perry won a free kick 25 yards out, very central. Both Burgess and Hotchkiss fancied it, and no wonder, if the ball could be kept down, the wind was clearly going to make any shot on target very hard to deal with. Lo and behold, Hotchkiss hit it beautifully, curling it into the top left hand corner with the keeper stranded. Game on!

Perry then fouled the Tynesider's keeper as he attempted to latch onto a long ball. It was a clear foul and was blown up straight away. But Farham reacted angrily to Perry's conduct and seemingly pushed Perry in the chest, causing the big striker to fall to the floor. Whether there was much contact, I was not sure, but the fact that it had looked liked their keeper had raised his arms at all should surely have led to a booking or even a red card. However it was brushed to one side by the consistently inconsistent referee and the game continued.

Gateshead worked their way back into the game with a period of decent possession, helped by a number of soft free kicks being given in the Mansfield half. However, they never really threatened and the Mansfield defence kept them at arms length. However, I worried we had took our foot of the gas and were going to do what we had done in previous home games, equalise and then struggle to hold on to even a point, rather than push on and gain all three.

Cue Burgess to step up in emphatic style. It seemed written in the script that one of his corners was destined to fly in the back of the net after Burgess' remarkable efforts in the first half, and this did indeed happen on 69. This time Burgess did have the advantage of the wind in his favour and he duly used it to perfection as he stepped up to curl a high, hanging ball straight into Farman's top right hand corner. A defender on the line desperately tried to clear the ball but only succeeding in heading it into the top of the net. 2 – 1 to a rejuvenated Mansfield side and what a great feeling it was to see Mansfield take the lead away from home in such atrocious conditions.

Mansfield seemed to push on and look for the third to kill of the game. Burgess came inches away with a shot from 8 yards out being deflected just wide of the stranded Heed keeper. Mansfield then won another corner, which Burgess this time hit the bar with! However, the referee had stopped play for pushing in the box.

Gateshead worked their way back into the game and pushed on in the last 15 minutes. This was helped again by some strange refereeing decisions for 50/50 challenges which enabled Gateshead to pump balls into the box from 40 – 50 yards out. Gateshead's best chance came from a break down the right where Silk was exposed. A shot came in from the edge of the area which curled wide of Marriott's full-length dive. From our angle, it was always going wide, but nonetheless it was a warning sign and was only possibly a foot or two wide of the far post.

Gateshead had more possession in Mansfield's half and put a number of balls into the box. But Mansfield looked strong and determined to hold on to a well-earned lead, and truth be told, Gateshead did not really fashion out any more clear-cut chances. It was still nervy stuff though, as is often the case with the Stags, and we needed a third to truly kill off a spirited Gateshead side.

This did happen in the first minute of injury time as a flicked ball from Challinor split open an exposed Gateshead defence. Morris latched onto it, took a touch and flicked it over the onrushing keeper. Although Farham got a fingertip to, it comfortably rolled into the net, and the celebrations started. Mansfield players ran in from all over the place to join the celebrations, which included a full length Klinsmann-esque dive from one player! (Unfortunately I didn't note who it was)

A deserved and hard-fought win for the Stags, and hopefully a catalyst for another unbeaten run at such a crucial time of the footballing calendar. Up the lads!

Man of the match: Burgess

Report by: rob_bie33

Line Up:
Marriott 7 A few uncharacteristic handling errors but the wind made things very difficult indeed and still you felt reassured to have him goal, couple of decent saves too.
Silk 7 Strong defending, possibly at fault for their goal but sometimes left on his own to deal with their left winger due to Briscoe pushing on and thus coped well.
Jones 7 Put his body on the line as always, marshalled the troops well.
Garner 7 Much better than at Ebbsfleet.
Armstrong 6.5 Lacked composure in possession but defended well.
Briscoe 7 Some great runs, always look a threat, however didn't really produce the end product.
Brough 5.5 Was pretty anonymous until he went off injured.
Somner 7 Flew into some tackles, looked very motivated, even got forward at times and had a decent shot blocked and curled another wide.
Challinor 7.5 Got better as the game went on and held the ball up well when he pushed further forward later on, looked to pass the ball, much better and more of what we are looking for.
Burgess 8.5 Awesome game, one stunning crossfield ball to Briscoe- the likes of which we haven't seen all season, could have scored directly with 4 corners (2 in both halves, it doesn't matter which way the wind is blowing for this lad) and thus knew what he was doing for the goal, it was no fluke.
Perry 7.5 Battled very hard indeed, created space for others and held the ball up well, never really looked like scoring but was clearly not fully fit and thus performed admirably.
Sub Line Up:
Hotchkiss (for Brough, 44) 8 30 yard free kick that Beckham would have been proud off, some good passing otherwise and was clearly more effective than Brough.
Morris (for Briscoe, 80) 7 Didn't really have much of the ball but his finish was top notch, dinking it over the keeper.
Subs Not Used: Sandercombe, Williams, Sturrock.
Opposition Line Up:
Farman, Baxter, Curtis, Williams (Swailes 71), Cave, Haworth, Gate, Keltie, Winn (Phillips 33), Armstrong (Richardson 71), Mackay. Subs Not Used: Provett, McDermott.
Darren Bond (Lancashire) 5 Very inconsistent, but both sides got the rub of the green at times.

Season 0910 Reports